On 24 February, the armed conflict in Ukraine entered a new phase with the intensification and spread of the hostilities causing major concern for the protection of civilians and essential civilian infrastructure.
Heavy fighting and shelling continues across several towns and cities in Ukraine, with increasing human cost and humanitarian consequences. This comes after months of rising political and military tensions and eight years of conflict in and around Eastern Ukraine where an estimated 2.9 million people are already in need of humanitarian assistance and 1.4million were internally displaced.
With the onset of hostilities, hundreds of thousands of people in Ukraine have left their homes, with more than 160,000 people reportedly internally displaced.
As of March 1, at least 660,000 have left their homes and crossed the borders into the neighbouring countries of Poland, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Belarus.
More than 120,000 were also evacuated to Russia from eastern Ukraine in the day before the hostilities intensified. UNHCR warns that this figure could rise to as much as 4 million.
This fluid and rapidly evolving situation, combined with severe security constraints impeding Red Cross teams on the ground, has made it extremely difficult for the Red Cross to fully assess the humanitarian consequences of the conflict. However, the needs are expected to be massive and to affect all regions of Ukraine, neighbouring countries and beyond.
Current estimates and scenarios indicate that as many as five million people may be displaced as the situation evolves, with many more impacted, including those already in need and displaced in Eastern Ukraine at the onset of the ongoing escalation.
Figures provided by authorities and National Societies point toward a total number of people potentially affected by the conflict at 18 million.
In many of these contexts, the Red Cross is the only organisation with official access and is presently the only actor that can deliver humanitarian assistance at scale.
The most pressing humanitarian needs are emergency medical services, critical medicines, health supplies and equipment, safe water for drinking and hygiene, and shelter and protection for those displaced from their homes. Among other urgent needs identified by partners preparing to receive displaced people are Mental health care and Psycho-social support.
Damage and destruction of water, electricity and sanitation facilities, as well as road and residential infrastructure continue to be reported across several areas. Without urgent action to protect these services, large scale humanitarian impacts are expected.
Access to shops, markets, healthcare and basic facilities in areas of active fighting also remains severely curtailed.
International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) has launched its Emergency Appeal for 100 million CHF to support National Societies in order to assist an initial 2 million people in need due to intensified hostilities in Ukraine. The timeframe for the operation is 2 years.
The International Committee Red Cross (ICRC) is finalizing an extension to their current appeal for 150 million CHF.
Total RCRC Movement Appeal = 250 million CHF, circa 242 M EUR
The Irish Red Cross response is being implemented in close coordination with its partners in the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. To date the IRC has raised more than EUR 3.5 million from the Irish Public.
Red Cross Action in Ukraine
In the initial phase of response efforts, the Red Cross is working to deliver relief supplies to meet the immediate humanitarian needs and are supporting with treating wounded and with evacuations.
Ukrainian Red Cross Society (URCS)– over 30,000 people have been assisted with URCS emergency stock. Trained Emergency Response volunteers (ERT) have been activated and are supporting fire brigades and the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU) responding to damage to civilian residences and infrastructure; ERTs have so far saved over 50 lives.
URCS staff and volunteers are helping people to relocate to safer areas.
Over 2,000 people have received first aid training conducted in shelters and online since the beginning of the conflict.
URCS branches are coordinating with local authorities to provide assistance to internally displaced people, many of whom will not or cannot cross the border into a neighbouring country.
Reception centres are being established in schools and other community buildings to accommodate a growing number of displaced people. URCS is receiving offers of assistance to support people queuing at the border.
With URCS and Movement partners the ICRC works closely with communities to respond to their existing and growing humanitarian needs generated by long years of conflict, to support increased resilience, and to deliver urgent assistance – food, water, fuel for heating, medical supplies, and support for housing.
The ICRC is working to support efforts to restore the water supply including the distribution of water by tankers for the affected communities.
Red Cross Action outside Ukraine
Red Cross National Societies in all neighbouring countries (Belarus, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia and Slovakia) are urgently responding to the unfolding crisis. Thousands of volunteers and staff have been mobilised to help people arriving from Ukraine. Temporary accommodation has been set up along the borders to offer shelter or respite for the night.
Red Cross volunteers are distributing food, water, bedding, clothes and basic aid items on both sides of the border and are providing medical care and psychosocial support for those in need. They’re also handing out SIM cards, so that people can stay in touch with their loved ones.
Polish Red Cross: It is estimated that 200,000 people have by now arrived in the country. There is a large demand for support of people waiting in queues and establishment of points to help people wait (tents, providing food etc) is badly needed at these border crossings.
Russian Red Cross: With help from 1,000 volunteers more than 47 tonnes of humanitarian aid has been collected, including clothes, hygiene sets, blankets and household items. These goods are being distributed to more than 18,000 people staying in temporary accommodation centres in Rostov and other regions.
Hungarian Red Cross: is operating at four border crossings and is conducting rapid needs assessments in border regions; they have established first aid points and are providing emergency food provisions in government-ran shelters.
Romanian Red Cross: Crisis cell is operating since 25 February, border branches have started activation of action plans, all branches are on standby to assist border regions. Logistical equipment and shelter kits has been sent from Romanian RC HQ to the Siret border station in the Suceava region of North-Eastern Romania, estimated to be the primary entry point of refugees. Volunteers across all border-branches are currently distributing food items, water, non-food items, hygiene products and communication equipment.
Red Cross Moldova: has opened a shelter for 800 people. Volunteers are distributing food and hygiene items.
We need your Help.
The Irish Red Cross is currently receiving donations in support of the ongoing Ukraine Crisis Appeal. To date this fund has received over 70,000 donations totalling more than €3.5 million.
Donations can be made by visiting the IRC at redcross.ie or via Revolut.
If you would like to learn more about the Ukraine Crisis Appeal and how the IRC is supporting the people of Ukraine, contact Charlie Lamson, IRC Head of Fundraising @ 083 104 6900 / email@example.com